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Seth Lakeman - Freedom Fields

Seth Lakeman, Freedom Fields

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

SETH Lakeman’s Freedom Fields gets a welcome re-issue featuring re-recorded tracks and a different playing order, as well as the odd new song.

The talented young folk singer has already attracted a Mercury nomination and has been hailed as “the first major star” from the recent folk revival by the Guardian. Anyone that’s heard his most recent single, Lady Of The Sea (Hear Her Calling) will know why.

With its lively electric violin and upbeat style, the track has already been used as bedding music by Channel 4 and carries with it an instantly welcome feel.

The rest of the album is just as impressive and very much designed as a thoughtful exploration of the turmoil of conflict, war and freedom. It’s also reflective of Lakeman’s West Country roots and the history (both land-based and naval) that is rich throughout.

The album actually takes its name from a skirmish that took place on December 3, 1645, where the Roundhead Garrison of Plymouth routed the King’s army (or Cavaliers) and changed the course of English history after some extremely vicious fighting.

Themes of war are rife throughout – the impressively foreboding Take No Rogues chronicling the fortunes of two young soldiers who have been told to carry out their duty and “take no prisoners and no rogues”. The sharp guitar riffs lend the track an extreme sense of urgency, while the drums merely layer on the atmosphere, so that you can practically see the story being played out in the cinema of your mind.

King & Country, meanwhile, examines the effects of the English Civil War and is suitably sincere, being built around folksy-guitar riffs, while the violins return on Rifleman of War, a track that contains an Irish sensibility. Once again, it contains an almost cinematic sweep.

The album isn’t just about war, however. The banjo-led The White Hare is another impressive offering that speaks of loss, longing and a forbidden love. It contains an almost lazy feel that’s great to kick back with and really pay attention to – the banjos, in particular, serving as terrific accompaniment.

And the emotionally driven The Colliers takes its theme from the oppression of the tin and copper miners whose plight was often hard and unforgiving. Thanks to Lakeman’s intense, energetic delivery, the words really do take on an added resonance.

Other highlights include the genuinely rousing The Final Lot, which combines lively guitar riffs with a boisterous set of vocals, and the slow-building The Band of Gold which provides further compelling evidence of Lakeman’s immense talent as both a singer and songwriter.

Seth Lakeman is clearly a man on the rise. His recent signing to Relentless puts him in company with KT Tunstall and Joss Stone and is certain to raise his profile even higher, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to get to know him.

Track listing:

  1. Lady Of The Sea (Hear Her Calling)
  2. The Setting Of The Sun
  3. The White Hare [Album Version]
  4. The Colliers
  5. King And Country
  6. Childe The Hunter
  7. Take No Rogues
  8. 1643
  9. The Riflemen Of War
  10. The Charmer
  11. The Final Lot
  12. The Band Of Gold
  13. Send Yourself Away [Album Version]